The Dissent of Man – 3rd epoch

Previously in this series – The Dissent of Man – 2nd epoch
Fellow Unbound author Stevyn Colgan, illustrator, speaker, songwriter, sceptic, Blue Peter badge winner, QI contributor, and lovely fellow, who has a fantastic book project on the go in Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope, (you can see them filming the pitch video, below) has also written on the difficult subject of the justification of crowd sourcing for books.
In his article, Because I hope I’m worth it, which I urge you to read, Stevyn reports on recent findings that, “A typical UK author earns 33% less than the national average wage”. This is not how it has always been. Writers were valued once, at least as equals, and the diversity of their work supported for their contribution.
As a brief aside, I would ask you to consider what is it that we expect from writers. Beautiful prose, certainly. Witticisms and insight, good ones please. Ideas, yes. Ideas. Surely this is the essence of the writer’s role, to come up with ideas and present them in an attractive way. Within the mystical twists of a novel. In elegant expositions that demystify complexity. With poetic grace that transcends our everyday. Writers are surely worth keeping as part of society and culture.
So, how has the modern devaluation of writing arisen? Very simply, all indicators are pointing towards a more single-minded commercialised publishing industry, one uninterested in diversity, only profits, and one unwilling to take risks. Instead, more guaranteed titles are being entertained, ones that will cover costs and make a profit, in some cases a huge profit for the publisher. And in our modern times, there is one commodity that you can be sure of turning profit: celebrity. Mainstream publishers have become single product orientated and the holistic vision across their catalogue, and across the industry as a whole, is gone.
Before you claim that actually there are now more writers than ever before, and the real problem is, in fact, an elevated competition to get noticed by publishers and agents, stop. Think about the duplication of ideas, the mass of vampire spin-offs, twitter guides, shades of meh, games of thrones, hunger games, hunger games of thrones, thrones of hungry game, etc.. I would assert that there is more duplication than ever before, but the effective, net number of ideas getting through is on the decline.
Perhaps too much the doom-sayer, but the natural end point for this will be something like the demise of the local business. Your local butcher, baker, candlestick maker, all ousted from the high street by huge supermarket conglomerates who can afford to undercut the small-scale shopkeeper. Diversity will survive only in the form of association with celebrity names. Hence, Pippa Middleton’s “Party Planner”, Peter Andre’s “Dog Love” and Gok Wan’s “Wok Gang.”

The publishing industry is in something of a turmoil. in that they perceive great losses to the ebook revolution. What they miss in their panic to buffer themselves against losses with a few sure fire hits, is that people like ebooks for, yes, the convenience, but also the huge diversity. As Stevyn points out,

“£350,000 to secure the biography of the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2012. If you need reminding, that was Pudsey the dog. £350,000 for the biography of a dog? That could have been 35 advances of £10,000 to keep 35 writers afloat and put many wonderful new books on the shelves.
I would go further even than this and accept half the offer: £5K would pay for me to write a book. It’s already over twice what I was paid to write one recently and more than I earn from writing per year. At that rate, it would keep myself and 69 others afloat. That’s 70 separate book ideas, no doubt including party planning, flower grooming and dog arranging. Would you swap a whopping 70 multifarious books for just one? Even if it was Justin Bieber’s First Step 2 Forever: My Story? Are you sure?
We find ourselves in dire and desperate times. It’s not solely the credit crunch. The cracks started creeping before that particular landslide catastrophe. There is little support for the majority of authors, no advances and no publicity budgets. This has been the norm for at least a decade.
I’ve never received an advance and have always done my own publicity. Advances were a romantic notion that I have heard about, but they ended a long time before I ever got published. If publishing houses are investing massively in just a few of their best-selling names (I shan’t go as far as to say authors, as most celebrity titles are ghost-written), the Catch-22 here is that it’s unlikely any writers will be able to join their ranks, as, ironically, they have to be more famous for dancing, singing, dog handling: essentially something, anything, other than being a good writer.
The Dissent of Man is about diversity. The diversity of human cognition and expression. People rarely have the opportunity to directly support, influence and impact culture. Buying a second hand book for 1p from Amazon Marketplace does not support anyone except the second-hand book seller and the Amazon corporation. Instead, please think of yourself as a sponsor, a sponsor of creativity and diversity: pledge on Unbound titles, and make that contribution.
Unbound are leading a brave spearhead into familiar, but as yet not fully charted waters for the modern publishing world. Mainstream publishers hate it, they feel threatened. What better reason do you need than to show your disapproval of how the industry has been compromised by profiteering? Make your voice heard, and PLEASE PLEDGE. Thank you.
Next in this series – The Dissent of Man – 4th epoch

About jfderry

Humanitarian Aid Disaster Relief Social Media / Hospitality Manager Conservation Scientist Modelling incl. epidemics Evolutionary Ecology Author+ @DISSENTOFMAN @DarwinMonkey
This entry was posted in Books, Darwin and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Dissent of Man – 3rd epoch

  1. Pingback: The Dissent of Man – 4th epoch |

  2. Though a few other books related to Evolutionary Psychology have been written since this, it is still one of the best introductions to the field. It is intelligently written, but not pendantic. Wright discusses many aspects of evolutionary psych. using many examples from the life of Charles Darwin.

  3. Thank you for the outstanding posts!

  4. Good morning. The content is very nice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s